The newsboys call the papers just as early. Sounds just the same—SUNDAY TRIBUNE!— but the paper isn’t the same. The morning headlines feature the taking of Malacca, a bad blow for Singapore.
I have been able to visit the few of the staff of the High Commissioner who had to stay in Manila. They are housed in the old Ynchausti mansion on M. H. Del Pilar. I’ve been in several times. Very simple, too. I just walked in through the gate. The Japanese guard didn’t seem to mind. The staff themselves get out to shop, and I suppose all Americans look alike to the guards. Today I had to resort to strategy, though, for this guard refused to let me in. So I walked past the gate, got a small Filipino boy to call the guard to the fence
away from the gate, to show him something to eat, and then I sneaked in. Getting out might have been a problem, but I just walked out—rather hurriedly, I might add.
They are all fine inside there; not too badly housed, well fed—for there is a fund set up for them—and all in excellent spirits. They told me it wasn’t true about the Lexington being sunk. I had been grieving about that report for I had some good friends on her. They must have a radio, but I didn’t ask them!
The town is swarming with queer people. It seems to me the Japs must have turned up the paving stones and
let all of them run out, or else they came out of the woodwork. Blest if I ever saw so many of them before! The oddest nationalities, the queerest languages!
There’s an odd-looking, alleged woman doctor (the alleged adjective could apply to both terms) of I don’t know what nationality, but she’s surely being very chummy with the Japanese, and I must say she picks high-ranking ones. Somebody said she comes from Macao.
A good many of the German Jew refugees seem highly elated these days. I think they are phonies planted by Herr Hitler.
We had a really merry party the other morning. For a while I almost forgot we were the Lost Legions. I wonder if years and years from now they’ll send out expeditions to find some trace of us. The kids from the Bay View, whom the Japs are forcing to run the hotel, are practically prisoners, but they do get across the street to my house occasionally. The cocktail lounge entrance of my place is exactly opposite their front door. They all came over this morning and we knocked back a few beers and formed a new club—the Social Pariah Club. Any American outside the Sawali walls of Santo Tomas is automatically a member, willy-nilly. All of us gals who married foreigners in our misguided youth, those out to run businesses for the Japs, even the pregnant girls and the young mothers—all of us will be so low in caste we’ll be practically untouchables when they open the gates of Santo Tomas. We might as well tell each other stories now, for nobody will ever listen to us after the Great Exodus…
But let the Great Exodus come soon. I’ll be glad and willing to take a back seat and be humble, listening to their tales, if they can only get out.
At any rate, we Social Pariahs have some funny tales to tell each other. Ed had a honey of a tale. Seems they had moved the luggage of the hotel guests now locked up, into a storeroom for safekeeping. In checking the rooms after everyone had gone to camp, Ed found a set of magnificent matched Bond Street luggage in one of the suites, which he thought had been overlooked. So he ordered it to storage. That night a Japanese officer who occupied that suite, rushed into the lobby waving his .45 in one hand and brandishing his sword in the other, screaming in several of the better Tokyo language-school tongues, that he had been robbed. Ed had a quick brainstorm (he had to be quick with a .45 pointed at him) and realized what had happened. The beautiful luggage belonged to the captain. Ed calmed him down ere either weapon functioned and the luggage was restored to the present owner—rightful or not, who knows?
Another story I remember which isn’t too nice; but it is amusing. —
Right in front of the restaurant on the boulevard side one evening I saw quite a throng of Japanese, shouting and carrying on in a most excited manner. The guard from the Bay View came to get Ed, who was having coffee with me, and I was fearful something dreadful was going to happen to him. But I heard him laugh so heartily I knew it could not be anything too bad. So I went out to see.
The Japanese had a ring of Filipinos kneeling down with their heads bowed. For a dreadful instant I thought they were to be executed! But, no. One Japanese was cutting the very long hair of each of the Filipino boys and muttering furiously. In the dusk I could not figure out what was happening.
Ed came back in the restaurant with the Jap guard, both laughing. The Jap tried to explain in broken English. He said, “Soldier think boys woman—long hair. Cut hair, no fool Japanese!”
It was a hilarious moment for all of us. They had picked up a bunch of Bina baes, known as fairies in English slang.
We kept hearing queer noises all morning. It didn’t sound like the Bataan front nor Corregidor guns. I swore it was bombing, but was frowned down. They insinuated I was hearing things because of the beer.
I was grossly maligned. It seems pretty certain that the funny noises meant Camp Murphy was being bombed by one of ours. There have been strange planes overhead today and it is simply hellish not to have any news. Treasure Island comes in pretty clear, but they say little. Some damn fool on that station named William Winter, is warning the people of the Philippines not to accept the “counterfeit” money the Japanese are circulating. In the first place, it is not counterfeit, if I know what that word means. It is a straightforward note saying it is worth so much and marked “Japanese government.” In the second place, if we refuse to use it they can and will shoot us, so we use it. I was awfully pleased to pay for my bicycle in that money. The Japanese who owned the bicycle shop where I bought it, looked pretty sour at the sight of the new money, but he had to take it.
Another thing about the Treasure Island radio that annoys me is that they keep orating that “Help is on
the way” blahblahblah. Anybody with horse sense knows help isn’t on the way yet. And their talk about torture, murder, rape, and sudden death isn’t true—yet. I am sure it will come and Heaven help us when the
United States does begin winning this war! As they must. The Japs will certainly then take out their spleen on us. Just now, the Filipinos are being treated with a great show of esteem, being assured that the Japanese are their liberators and friends. Wait until the dear yellow boys shove them into the shafts of rickshaws. The little brown brothers will not like.